My Tips on Parenthood: An Open Letter to a Pregnant Sister 

Dearest Sis,

Not long to go until you welcome your (much awaited) first child! I just can’t put into words how happy I am for you guys, so with this I will put into words the things I have learnt so far…

Having been a parent for a short 4 years and two kids later, makes me (according to some mommy forums) yep… a basic expert. You know, just like binging ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ pretty much makes one a surgeon or following ‘Master Chef’ suddenly turns us into culinary wizards…

1. It’s all Trial and Error

Here’s the first secret… none of us really know what we’re doing. Ofcourse, we’re reading up on things, consulting with professionals and rely on other parents’ experiences… so we’re not totally lost… but we’re pretty much making it all up as we go along

2. People will have an Opinion on your Parenting, no Matter what you Do.

We can’t help but have an opinion, it’s in our nature and it’s what makes us such complex beings. Some, however, struggle with keeping said opinions to themselves. Sometimes it comes out as constructive criticism and might actually help you, other times it’s just a jab because you don’t do things the way ‘they’ would. Let it all roll off your back (easier said than done, I know), filter out the useful stuff, discuss with your partner and do what you want anyway …

3. Every grandparent in the world; no matter which background, race, culture or season; will think your child is dressed either too hot or too cold

It only shows they care … Their parents did it to them, and we sure as heck will do it to our own one day 😉

4. Communication is Key

If I can promote one thing (yep, here comes the advice and opinions) it’s to talk with your kids.. a lot! Narrate what you’re doing when they are babies… they love hearing your voice and it only helps them develop language skills even better. Later on, ask them how their day was (even the little, trivial stories, matter). It creates a safe and open environment at home because they know they can tell you everything. And as teenagers and adults, continue that communication… if there’s anger or an issue, talk about it and resolve it together. If something’s funny, laugh together and if you’re sad, support each other.

5. Trust your Gut

Nobody will know your child better than you guys, so trust your instincts

6. The Ever so Intense Topic of Breastfeeding

We live in a world of online forums, social media and countless of scary articles that tell us we’re pretty much doing a shit job. So here’s this… you want to breastfeed? good. You don’t want to breastfeed? good. You want to do both? good. As long as that baby is fed, cared for and loved, you pretty much got this

7. Mix and Match Parenting Styles

You don’t need to be intensely passionate about one style and one style only (if you are, there’s nothing wrong with that either) Parenting styles could be like a ‘buffet’, where you pick and choose the things that work for you and your child. There is NO one-good-the-only-way parenting style out there… Every child and every parent is different and while one thing may work wonders for one family, it doesn’t always necessarily work for another.

8. Everything in Moderation

Your kid won’t get a misshaped hip from using a walker or baby carrier… granted he’s not in there all the live long day. Your baby won’t get traumatized if you let her cry a little, granted you keep it to a reasonable time and she’s not in pain or anything like that (see point: trust your gut). Your child won’t become an entitled little feral kid if you loosen your grip, just have a few boundaries in place for their own safety. And I can keep going, because there are strong opinions on literally e.ve.ry.thing you do as a parent …. Just go with what you’re comfortable with and use common sense.

9. Some days your kid is just an a-hole…. and that’s ok

The days (and nights) will happen where your child is upset, grumpy, angry etc and there is no way of telling ‘why’… you’ve tried everything and they are just …well…pissed off! Sometimes kids don’t yet have the means to process certain feelings so they do so the only way they know how… by ‘acting out’. Some days they’re just in a foul mood (like adults) and again… they ‘act out’.
At first we try and find a reason/excuse: “oh, he’s real tired he missed a nap”, “she’s been a bit ill lately” , “it must be the change in weather” etc etc *whilst we embarrassingly avoid other people’s judgy looks* …. It took me a long time to get over that and to get to a point where I can just safely admit “nope, today’s she’s just an asshole” and I’ll try and ride it out as calmly as I can (side note: ofcourse I don’t tell my kids they’re being an asshole…. at least not to their face)

10. Some days you’ll lose yourself… that’s ok too

I’ve lost count of the amount of times where I didn’t recognize myself anymore as I got swallowed whole by the concept of ‘being a mom’. Days where I felt guilty for returning to work and not being home, days where I hated how my body looked now, days where I felt that all I was there for was to just care for these little monkeys, days where I felt that the successful psychologist I once thought I was had now been replaced by a bonafide soccer mom and the list keeps going…
That’s ok too… it’s not always meant to be easy and it’s a huge change! But just because you struggle with it from time to time doesn’t mean it is a bad change! We all have off days where we feel like shit (you don’t need to be a parent for that ..)

So with these 10 points, my little sis, I wish you all the luck in this next adventure! Take from them what you want, add your own spin and just love the crap out of your child. Cause in the end, thAt’s what matters the most!

You’re going to be an amazing mom and I’ll be there for you when you need to laugh, cry, vent, yell or just plain ‘gooh’ and ‘gaah’ at every cute little noise these little minions make…

Lots of love,

S

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